Anna Bridgman won first place at the Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Performance Competition on March 24.
After winning the state and regional levels, Bridgman, who graduated from MU in December, competed at the national level in Chicago against five other soprano finalists from around the country.
She said she was thrilled when her name was announced for the top prize.
“It was the most wonderful feeling,” Bridgman said. “When they said my name for first place, the smile on my face just was enormous.”
Ann Harrell, who has been Bridgman’s voice teacher for five years, accompanied her to the MTNA competition and was with her when she won. She said hearing Bridgman’s name for first place was a thrill.
“Working with Anna has been a great pleasure,” Harrell said. “She has a gorgeous soprano voice. She is a sensitive and expressive artist, and she is intelligent. She is disciplined, perseveres through adversity and she is also a courageous performer.”
Throughout the five months of the competition — from the regional to national level — Bridgman had to perform a 30- to 35-minute program of eight voice pieces she had prepared in September.
“It was a really long process,” Bridgman said. “It was definitely a tedious process, but in the end it was obviously worth it.”
Music and singing has always been a huge part of Bridgman’s life. She participated in choirs and musicals throughout high school, but it was only when she started taking voice lessons her senior year that she fell in love with classical singing and opera.
“I get this feeling when I sing, and it’s the feeling (that) this is what I’m supposed to do in my life,” Bridgman said. “It’s a feeling of happiness … just pure joy of sharing music with people that mean so much to me. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Bridgman majored in vocal performance and was very involved with music programs and organizations on campus. She was part of the University Singers choir since her freshman year, she participated in the Show-Me Opera workshop program, and she was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, a women’s music fraternity.
Her parents, Marie and Steve Farris, and director of choral activities Paul Crabb have been some of her biggest supporters, Bridgman said.
She said she’s especially thankful for her opera director, Christine Seitz.
“(Bridgman) has been a wonderful colleague to her fellow singers and she has been wonderful to work with in her opera,” Seitz said.
Bridgman has also had a lot of support from Harrell.
“She’s just phenomenal,” Bridgman said. “I’ve learned so much from working with her the past five years. Without her guidance and instruction, I don’t think I would have had any of the successes that I had while I was here at Mizzou.”
Bridgman will attend graduate school in the fall at Boston Conservatory on a full-tuition scholarship. She will pursue a master’s of music in opera performance.
“It will be a dream come true to live in Boston and to do my opera studies,” Bridgman said.
Bridgman dreams of being an opera singer in America, internationally or both. She wants to perform opera throughout her life and one day make it to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“She has a stunningly beautiful voice that has a warm and glowing quality,” Seitz said. “Every note she sings is beautiful and people respond to that, whether they know what she’s singing or not. … She’s compelling to watch when she’s singing on stage. She’s a fine musician.”
Bridgman said she knows music will always be part of her life.
“I think it’s safe to say that music has given my life a little more meaning,” Bridgman said. “It’s something that every time I sing, every time I go into a practice room, every time I go on stage for an opera performance or what have you, I just feel so fulfilled and I think the impact it has had on my life is just incredible. I do feel like it has changed my life.”